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Government starts to fill dental care cavity

The Federal Government is unleashing a $346 million “blitz” on public dental waiting lists to fast-track treatment for about 400,000 people as it seeks to bolster dental services despite heavy cuts to overall spending. The Government has allocated $515 million in the Budget to not only cut waiting times but employ more practitioners, upgrade facilities and increase incentives for providing services in regional and remote areas, in a move that goes some way to addressing concerns about the adequacy of public dental health care.

09 May 2012

The Federal Government is unleashing a $346 million “blitz” on public dental waiting lists to fast-track treatment for about 400,000 people as it seeks to bolster dental services despite heavy cuts to overall spending.

The Government has allocated $515 million in the Budget to not only cut waiting times but employ more practitioners, upgrade facilities and increase incentives for providing services in regional and remote areas, in a move that goes some way to addressing concerns about the adequacy of public dental health care.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the funding, to be provided over the next three years, was a “significant step” in upgrading the dental care system.

“New spending in this Budget will see a blitz on State Government waiting lists to help meet the emergency treatment and prevention needs of people who are eligible for public dental care,” Ms Plibersek said.

In addition to the money allocated to tackle waiting lists, almost $78 million has been set aside over the next four years to provide extra grants for dentists relocating to regional, rural and remote areas, $45 million will be used to establish an Oral Health Therpist graduate program, and more than $35 million will be spent to double the intake for the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program to 100 placements a year by 2016.

The commitments were welcomed by the Australian Greens, who have been pushing for the establishment of a Medicare-style public dental health scheme.

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Published: 09 May 2012